If you like the idea of a card that rewards your passion for travel and dining out, but you don’t necessarily want a strictly travel rewards credit card, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is where you need to start.
The welcome bonus points offer for the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is 50,000 points, or the equivalent of $500, after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days that the account is open. Those points can be redeemed for a statement credit, a deposit directly into an eligible account or through the Bank of America Travel Center®.
While the flexible redemption options are certainly a perk, if traveling is your thing you’ll also appreciate a few of the other features. For instance, you’ll save with up to $100 in an airline incidentals statement credit annually, as well as up to $100 in statement credit for your TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry application fee. Plus, you don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees.
Although there is a $95 annual fee, the right person for the card will reap benefits that more than offset the fee.
While on first glance the rewards-earning maybe doesn't wow as much as some other cards with similar annual fees, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card definitely has some great benefits. Furthermore, if you happen to be a Bank of America account holder, your rewards earning gets substantially better. For every cardholder, day-to-day benefits include earning an unlimited two points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases as well as 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Also a highlight, is that you can redeem points in several ways: as statement credit; a deposit directly into an eligible Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account, including checking, savings and 529 accounts (and this is an option you really want to consider, as we’ll explain below); for gift cards; and for purchases in the Bank of America® travel center.
Now, about that deposit into an eligible account… this is where the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card sets itself apart for Bank of America account holders. This card is eligible for the Preferred Rewards program with the bank. Through the program, customers who maintain a certain account balance across their eligible Bank of America or Merrill Lynch accounts will receive bonus cash back – anywhere from an extra 25-75 percent – when they redeem their rewards directly into one of those eligible accounts. If you qualify for the Gold tier of the Preferred Rewards program, for instance, redeeming $100 worth of rewards into your eligible account will actually net you $125 in rewards. If you do the math, that means you could earn up to 3.5 points per $1 on travel and dining purchases and up to 2.62 points per $1 on all other purchases. Not a bad earning rate at all.
Lastly, if you're traveling abroad, you’re safe to use this card as it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card offers some solid benefits, but those benefits are really best for those who travel and dine out often. If that doesn’t sound like your lifestyle, you’re unlikely to realize the full benefits of this card and you might even have some trouble offsetting the annual fee. Sure, you can still earn points and redeem them for cash back, but there are cards that don’t charge an annual fee and feature higher rewards earning in other categories, like gas or groceries, and may be more your speed. As with any credit card, you’ll want to honestly consider your spending habits and goals to determine if this card is best for you.
Plus, keep in mind that this card will truly perform to its full potential for existing Bank of America account holders who qualify for the Preferred Rewards program.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card vs. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Do you use your credit card for grocery or gas purchases more than you do for travel and dining out? If so, you should consider the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser. Terms apply. See Rates and Fees). It offers 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1 percent); 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. If you’re more of the eat-at-home and commute to and from work type, this could be a better option for you.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers an opportunity for new cardholders to earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. Bank of America, remember, offers 50,000 points – the equivalent of $500 – after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. The American Express card comes with a $95 annual fee, but don't let this deter you. Think of it this way: if you spend $1,585 at U.S. supermarkets annually, at 6 percent cash back you've already covered the annual fee (6 percent x $1,585 = $95.10)! If you're an avid card user, the high rewards percentages allows you to quickly offset the annual fee, assuming you use your credit card for the categories honored by American Express like supermarkets and gas stations.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Neither card requires its cardholders to have brand loyalty in order to reap the rewards of its benefits. Flexibility is key and both cards offer it with redemption, although the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will get you more bang for your buck if you redeem through its Chase Ultimate Rewards® program where your points are worth 25 percent more when you redeem them for travel. That means that, although the welcome bonus rewards offers seem similar, Chase’s 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months is actually worth up to $625 when redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards®, while the Bank of America welcome offer will get you the equivalent of $500 after your spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. Both cards come with a $95 annual fee, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card waives that fee in the first year.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your Ultimate Rewards® points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are combinable with Ultimate Rewards® you earn with other Chase cards in the program; therefore, if you already have a card in the Chase Ink or Chase Freedom families, you might be better off with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Furthermore, Ultimate Rewards® points don’t require brand loyalty to a particular hotel or airline, BUT Chase does partner with several airline and hotel loyalty programs to which you can transfer your points and possibly see their value increase dramatically.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card vs. Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is another Bank of America credit card that rewards your loyalty to the bank with rewards bonuses, but this one does it without charging you an annual fee and it offers some bonus rewards even if you aren’t a Preferred Rewards client. What this card doesn’t do is focus on travel and dining out, which could mean it’s just right for your needs.
With the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, you earn 3 percent back at gas stations and 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 combined spending on gas/grocery/wholesale club purchases each quarter (then 1 percent). You’ll also earn 1 percent back on all your other purchases. The key, though, is that if you redeem your rewards directly into an eligible Bank of America account, you’ll automatically receive a 10 percent bonus on those rewards. Preferred Rewards clients can up that bonus to 25-75 percent.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card also features a welcome offer: Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
If you do intend to travel abroad, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is a better option – it doesn’t charge foreign transacation fees while the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card does.
The best applicant for the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is a person who budgets their money wisely so as to reap the benefits and not waste them. This person will enjoy traveling and dining out and seeing their points grow just for using this card for everyday purchases. The perfect cardholder will not have one brand of hotel or airline to which they are loyal, but WILL hold an account with Bank of America – preferably one (or several) that qualify you for the Preferred Rewards program.